I can remember passing my driving test in my late teens, and my father asking me which car I wanted. I knew I needed something with four wheels, a steering wheel, some seats inside, and preferably, one that would last. Simple, right? of course not. As I proudly parked my rusty Citroen AX (which pre-dated the last ice age) on our drive way, and saw the horrified look on my father’s face, I knew that I should have asked more questions before handing over the cash. That was the day I learned that it’s all in the detail, and learned that cars, (much like cruise holidays) are not one-size-fits-all purchases
Luckily for you though, between us at ROL Cruise, we have totted up over 700 years’ experience in the cruise and travel industries and speak to cruise fanatics in their hundreds every day. This experience makes us ideally placed to give you some handy tips on how to choose your next cruise.
1.Think about where you want to go
The number of options available to you varies hugely depending on which parts of the world you want to see. Whether it’s an Atlantic crossing that floats your boat, the deserted Islands of Thailand, an around the world cruise or a trip around the British Isles, this is a good place to start. Expedition cruising is becoming more popular all the time as we get more adventurous with our travels. If you want to hang out with Emperor Penguins on the White Continent or photograph Polar Bear footprints on Svalbard, we’ll make it happen. We’ll even advise you on what to pack to make sure you get the most out of your trip. Visit our destinations pages for some inspiration, then check out the rest of our tips below.
2.Think about the kinds of things you like to do when home and away
You might not be in the know about the facilities available aboard modern day liners, but a good place to start is to grab a pad, and jot down the things you enjoy doing most. Here’s a short list of the common pastimes on cruises to get you started:
- Dancing; from ballroom to jive
- Arts and crafts
- Photography and computing courses
- Educational lectures and talks
- Daily quizzes
- Leisure facilities including spas, gyms and exercise classes
- West-End style theatre performances
- A host of dining options, perfect for the foodies amongst us
- Daily high tea (or afternoon tea)
Some cruise ships are packed to the rafters with activities and include things such as ice skating and bumper cars, slides and flumes. You can even zip line from one end of the ship to another on some.
3.When do you want to cruise?
Do you have a big birthday or anniversary to celebrate? If so, sharing your special date with us is a great place to start. From here, we can do some research and present you with the best options, taking into consideration:
- Wildlife spotting
- Seasonality- do you want to cruise at Christmas, see autumn leaves, photograph the Northern Lights or play in snow?
- Cruising conditions
- Popularity – do you want to avoid the children’s holidays?
- Booking trends – you may need to book early
- Accessibility - some places just can’t be reached at certain times of the year
- Cruise line launches- we’ll know when certain itineraries are on sale
4.Decide on a budget
This very much depends on whether it’s an un-planned last minute break, or a special trip you only plan to take once in your lifetime. If it’s the latter, perhaps you don’t want to assign a budget providing the cruise is right for you. If you do have a rough price in mind, this can help us point you in the right direction, because it’s often a question of ‘how long is a piece of string’ when it comes to cruise pricing. Remember, there is often a considerable jump between the price of the entry category on a cruise ship (usually an inside cabin with no windows) to the top-grade suite (often with a large balcony). This means the cost can be the same to cruise in a top suite on a three-star ship, as an inside cabin on a five or six-star ship, it all depends on what’s most important to you.
5.Time is of the essence
Have a think about how much time you’d like to be away. This usually helps to narrow down your destination choices too. If you don’t mind hopping on a plane, you can usually spend more time in your destinations, as it can take a couple of days to cruise from the UK to your chosen cruise region. Typically, cruises can be anything from two, to 100+ nights for a global circumnavigation. In fact, they can be as long as time allows, as there’s usually the option to link a couple of cruises together to form one big itinerary. This is something we’ll always ask when helping you choose a cruise.
6. Let’s talk dress codes
How are you most comfortable? dressing up to the nines, or enjoying casual dines? Most cruise companies realise that flexibility is key, thus giving the option to glam up, or dress down. Formal nights and captain’s gala evenings are available on some ships; a great opportunity to wear your long flocks and tuxedos if you wish, although attendance to these events are not compulsory. Dress code terminology can be a little confusing sometimes, but we’ll explain the difference between ‘resort casual’, ‘elegant casual’ and ‘smart casual’, and banish the brochure jargon to help you make the right choices with your packing.